Email wasn’t designed for sending sensitive or confidential information yet it remains the most common form of communication in business. Meanwhile, traditional approaches to encryption have been costly and complex.
Credit card details, personal identifiable information and financial data are regularly put at risk when shared over traditional email services.
The result has been that employees regularly disclose sensitive, personal or confidential information to the outside world – often by accident but sometimes even maliciously. The price is the loss of business reputation, valuable intellectual property and customer confidence. Not to mention the risk of potentially expensive legal action.
This is why today we’re announcing the launch of Mimecast Secure Messaging. This new service is designed to help employees confidently send and receive sensitive or confidential information via email.
Recipients access messages via a secure Web portal, fully customized and branded with the sender’s company name, colors and logo – helping ensure brand recognition and recipient confidence.
Here are just three scenarios where Secure Messaging would make a difference:
Secure Messaging is part of Mimecast’s wider cloud email security suite; working alongside gateway, DLP and content controls to help organizations meet compliance regulations, including PCI-DSS, HIPAA and GLBA.
Email security is an essential part of your overall security strategy. It protects users from new and emerging email threats and enforces security controls on information flows. Technologies including anti-virus and anti-spam cover the external threats, but you must also enforce controls on the email flow from within your organization.
In the wake of continued high-profile data breaches, email users now expect to see a higher level of protection to be confident that appropriate measures have been taken to safeguard their sensitive data.
Consider the emails that your organization sends to customers, suppliers and prospects. Will your recipients be satisfied by your security approach?
The U.S. healthcare industry is the latest victim in a series of massive cyber-attacks. Most recently, Premera Blue Cross, a not-for-profit insurance provider, underwent a cyber-hack that reportedly exposed the medical and financial information of 11 million members. Last month, Anthem, the nation’s second-largest health insurer, was the target of one of the biggest data breaches ever reported, with cyber-attackers gaining access to the medical records, social security numbers, income data and home addresses of as many as 80 million members.
This string of targeted data breaches proves that no industry is safe from the attention of cyber criminals. And now, more than ever, email security should be top-of-mind for all organizations.
The healthcare industry, in particular, has a unique set of challenges to consider when it comes to IT infrastructure – specifically, email security. Budget is a known hurdle, as most healthcare organizations have allocated the majority of their IT dollars to improving systems to manage electronic patient records and systems to meet Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance.
The focus and spend on systems to support HIPPA compliance coupled with little-to-no IT resources means data security often isn’t prioritized. The economics of this decision are changing. The Target breach settlement of $10 million, in response to a class action suit, will likely open the doors for similar class action suits against other major organizations with large-scale breaches.
It is important to remember that healthcare information is one of the most personal and sensitive types of data – people care deeply about who can access this. There is a high expectation that healthcare data is protected, and this expectation is often held to a higher standard when compared to other industries.
Today’s sophisticated attacks combine social engineering and spear-phishing to penetrate organizations’ networks and steal critical data. Most of the major data breaches that have occurred over the past year have been initiated by this type of threat. The only defense against this level of attack is a layered approach to security. Email security solutions that might have been adequate several years ago often lack features to protect against these spear-phishing attacks.
By following these easy steps, email security no longer has to be costly or complex for the healthcare industry. Make sure you have:
- Broad Spectrum Email Security: Malware protection needs to go beyond email attachments and include the destination of any embedded email. Effective spear phishing protection needs to happen at the time of the user click to ensure that malicious sites are identified based on the browser platform being used.
- Transport-level Encryption: Emails should be encrypted during transmission between email servers to provide protection from interception.
- Secure Webmail: The most secure approach is some form of secure webmail delivery, in which the message is stopped at the gateway. The recipient of the email gets a delivery notification with a link that is used to access the original email. Secure webmail delivery solutions typically require a password to access the email which adds another layer of security to message access, giving worried doctors peace of mind. Ideally, the solution will also track recipient access.
Half the problem with protecting your enterprise from every hacker, phisher, visher and botnet herder is the helpful part of human nature, that wants to be…helpful. We’ve known for a very long time that the vast majority of successful cyber-attacks rely on this helpfulness to achieve their goal. We know that social engineering plays a significant role in these attacks, from the most complex right down to the most ‘mundane’ phishing email; and our attackers know this too.
I sense that enterprise cyber security has reached a turning point that will solve this problem.
For years, we’ve been talking about the de-perimeterization of the network, as end users and cloud services make the corporate firewall less relevant. CIOs and IT Managers I’ve spoken to have long been trying to shoe-horn their existing cyber-security into this new model, but have been losing the battle. The ubiquitous nature of connectivity and mobile computing was not so much the straw for this poor camel, but the entire haystack.
So, this is where I sense a pivot occurring, in the way we think about enterprise cyber-security; one that leaves those legacy ideas on the LAN and introduces a more task-orientated set of security rules. Rules that consider how the humans’ use our enterprise services and how those same humans are exploited. And importantly, rules that change the game in our favor, as opposed to the business-as-usual cyber security arms race we suffer under.
Of course, security professionals have been asking for more training for their human users since the dawn of the ILOVEYOU virus, but sadly this has always been low on the priority list for the budget controllers in businesses.
Security and IT professionals also know there is no single technology solution that will protect humans either. Sadly, until very recently, that’s about as far as the conversation went. Enough budget would be allocated for ‘reasonably regular’ (i.e. every six months, if you’re lucky) security training – and we’d all cross our fingers that no one would do anything stupid.
But they did, and they still do. Humans click links, especially in emails, and there’s no way of stopping them from doing that. So we’ve begun to learn that a new approach is needed here. An approach that is the foundation to the wider pivot I mentioned above. If technology can’t completely help us, and in isolation security training isn’t effective anymore—maybe the answer is in the last place we would have looked a few years ago? In the humans.
It’s after all our users who have become the front line for attackers looking to gain access to your network and we know this is because the humans are easier to hack than the code they write. So instead of constantly hardening our code and infrastructure why don’t we start to harden our humans?
Invoke a Human Firewall to help protect our businesses and de-fang the threats that target them. We know that our routine security training doesn’t work and we know our technology is less effective—so why not use the technology to help train users in a more real-time manner, or at the point of click in an email. Subtly warn them they might be able to experience something malicious, and block them if it does turn out to be a watering-hole or drive-by attack. But help them understand the risks, educate them constantly and in new and exciting ways, not once or twice a year in traditional training session.
It’s only when you start to get humans thinking for a fraction of a second longer than normal before performing a task, running an attachment or clicking a link, have you started to drive a behavior change in them. It’s this behavior change that we need to encourage, one that makes them a tiny bit suspicious of those emails that look ever so slightly odd, one that means they’re more aware than we could have ever hope for.
This behavior change is what invokes your human firewall, it’s the only way you’ll protect your humans from themselves, and it’s the only way we might be able to solve our cyber-security woes.
The political world has been making global headlines around trouble over email usage. Former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has been scrutinized for deleting 31,830 emails. Why?
The emails were stored on a private, home-based server during her time at the U.S. State Department, and a single account was being used for both personal and government-official email communication. When asked about the controversy, Clinton said she thought it would be easier to use one email address. Former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, was caught using his private email address to discuss confidential security and military issues. And according to a New York Times article, it took Bush more than “seven years to comply with a Florida public records statute” on email disclosure.
This attitude toward using one email address as a catch-all for personal and work communication is common, especially when it comes to senior-level government officials and corporate executives. There are, no doubt, many individuals in senior positions around the world who believe their seniority gives them the ability – and sometimes right – to side-step established corporate policy and procedure. This is exaggerated by the fact that, in many cases, junior staff members are tasked with setting up this one-off functionality, and they are not likely to call out the security risks to senior-level executives and officials (or simply say “no”).
There’s one thing the Clinton and Bush email controversies should teach us: Seniority shouldn’t be a reason for allowing or perpetuating the breach of any corporate policies. One for all, and all for one. Everyone within an organization should adhere to the same rules, policies and standards when it comes to email usage. Otherwise, a false sense of security takes hold, and mistakes can be made. For instance, data can be easily deleted, lost or leaked without a trace when outside the control of the corporate IT team. When an email server is installed at a residence versus a secure data center, there is no clear distinction between personal and work email, nor are there the same guarantees of security and privacy. This drastically increases the likelihood of confidential documents and messages reaching the inboxes of the sender’s personal network – and there are no security and retention policies in place to track, protect and retrieve the wrongfully-transmitted data. In a post-Snowden and – NSA world, we should doubt the security of anything outside the best standards of established technology.
There’s also a compliance issue to consider. Official IT administrators likely can’t access data that resides on an at-home server in the same way they would with a server in their own data center, which will compromise e-discovery requests. This also complicates subpoenas and other legal requests for information – if the data doesn’t reside in a government or corporate data center, who rightfully has access to it? Who has the right to delete email archives? Without clearly-defined policies, the answers to these questions remain unclear.